Weapons of Mass *Distraction*

by Dick Wamsley 

If there were any doubters that Apple would be able to attract buyers for their new iPhone X selling at $999, those doubts vanished when their most expensive phone ever was released on November 3rd.  They started selling out by the next day.  Over the weekend, resale prices began appearing on eBay and Craigslist ranging from $1,500 to $5,000! 

And so, yet another technical marvel is in the hands of consumers that some will find to be a valuable tool in their work, home and personal management.  For others it will become just another distraction that keeps them from fulfilling responsibilities in their work, home and personal management.  In some cases, it will be a distraction that leads to auto and pedestrian accidents, loss of productivity on the job and even deaths.  I heard one preacher refer to such technological gadgets as “weapons of mass distraction.” 

That led me to consider how weapons of mass distraction can make their way into the life of the church.  The latest and greatest outreach program that attracted people to Church A down the road is adopted in Church B without evaluating its appropriateness for them.  A church introduces an entirely new worship style with little education of the congregation as to why the change is being made.  A ministry staff member becomes a lightning rod of controversy that ends up dividing the loyalties of the congregation. 

These can become weapons of mass distraction that divert the energies of a church from pursuing its vision and fulfilling its mission.  What starts out as a minor distraction morphs into a weapon that blows up in the faces of the church’s leadership. 

In the letters of the Apostle Paul to the first century church in Corinth, several such distractions are cited and criticized.  (All of the following are in 1 Corinthians.)  There were quarrels among some church members as to whom they should follow: Paul, Apollos, Peter or Christ (1:11-12).  There was the distraction of sexual immorality by one of the members who “has his father’s wife,” (5:1).  Others were suing each other in civil courts (6:1-6).  There was controversy over Christians eating food that had been sacrificed to idols (all of chapter 8), divisiveness when sharing the Lord’s Supper (11:17-34), and the manifestation of spiritual gifts used during corporate worship (chapters 12-14).  

You talk about weapons of mass distraction!  There was a stockpile of them in the Corinthian church! 

Paul exerted his apostolic authority and gave specific instructions as to how to deal with each of these potential weapons of mass distraction, any one of which could explode into a church-splitting contention.  Part of Satan’s strategy to disrupt the impact of the church on its community is to turn what may begin as minor distractions into major disruptions.  Modern leaders in the church need to be on the alert for those distractions and take definitive, Biblically-based and Holy Spirit-led action to defuse them early.  Procrastination usually leads to an escalation of the dynamics involved in the distraction. 

Paul’s appeal for dealing with the divisions was that the church “agree with one another” and “be perfectly united in mind and thought,” (1:10).  To deal with the sexual immorality among them, he said they should have “been filled with grief” and “put out of [their] fellowship” the guilty man, (5:2).  To those who were suing one another in civil courts, he admonished them to appoint judges who were “wise enough to judge disputes among believers,” (6:4-5).  He gave similar definitive actions to take in dealing with eating food offered to idols, the divisiveness when observing the Lord’s supper, and the proper use of spiritual gifts during corporate worship. 

The key to neutralizing potential weapons of mass distraction is for the church’s leaders to be alert to those distractions as they arise in the church, interceding with biblical teaching and problem-solving actions to prevent those distractions from escalating into major disruptions.  Doing so will more likely result in people affirming what Paul said to the Corinthian church in his first line after the greeting; chapter 1, verse 4: “I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.”

3 Models for Church Leadership

by Tim Wallingford 

I had the opportunity to visit with over 400 ministers in 18 months either in group settings or one-on-one as we began the Center for Church Leadership.  One of the most-common questions that ministers ask is about having effective working relationships with elders and the Eldership. 
 
In Christian Churches / Churches of Christ, we can conceptualize the roles, responsibilities, accountability and teamwork of congregations’ leadership into 3 basic “models:”  

  • Elder-Led / Staff-Engaged
  • Staff-Led / Elder-Protected
  • Shared Leadership

I remember one of my first ministries; I was still in Bible college.  The church was growing.  As a good minister I believed my role was to present a Ministry Plan to sustain and enable future growth.  But every proposal I made created tension with a few of the Elders.  I was operating out of the Staff-led/Elder-protected model.  I came to realize that, in contrast, the Elders’ philosophy of leadership in that congregation was Elder-led/Staff-Engaged.  When the church was smaller, the Elders created the ministry plan and the part-time Bible college students would engage, or execute, it.  
 
When I crafted and presented my Ministry Plans, a few of the elders were having difficulty making the mental jump in their oversight of me from “approving” a plan versus their familiarity with “creating” the plan.  The Elders were godly, good men, but misunderstanding between myself and my fellow leaders on how we would operate created tension and killed our effectiveness. 
 
As a minister or Elder, if there’s any tension or you perceive the leadership is not always on the same page, ask the philosophy of leadership question: “what model are we using to work as a team?”  Much tension will be removed – and effectiveness and joy will return! – when everyone understands how their role, responsibilities, accountability and teamwork all come together to honor God. 

What Young Ministers Wish we Knew about Them

by Dan Overdorf

Each May, graduates march across stages at Christian colleges and seminaries nationwide to receive ministry degrees.  Then they march into our pulpits, youth ministries … and elders’ meetings. They’re educated and eager, but, well, they’re young.  They have new ideas.  They look at things differently than we do.  They say and do things that make us uncomfortable.  And we struggle to understand them.
 
In an effort to better understand our young ministers, I asked a number of them to answer this question:  “What do you wish your elders knew about you?”
 
I summarized their responses in no particular order:

  • I am a unique individual, not a generational profile.   
  • People trust you more than they trust me – your verbal support makes a difference.
  • Inexperienced does not equal ineffective.
  • It builds my confidence when you ask for my opinion.
  • When you let me try my new idea, you saved my ministry.
  • Finances are tight. 
  • When you invited me into your home, it made me feel like family.
  • I need your public support and private constructive criticism.
  • Being single doesn’t make me less of a minister.
  • I appreciate when you care about me as a person.   
  • I’ve given everything to serve the Kingdom.
  • We’re on the same team.
  • I am scared and need your encouragement more than I let on.
  • I need your help to grow as a leader, Christian, and person.
  • I pour my heart (and several hours of prep) into my sermons.
  • I have unique gifts and I need your help to develop them.
  • It hurts when people say, “You’re going to be a good minister someday.”
  • Being female doesn’t make me less of a minister.   
  • I need your trust.
  • I’m grateful that you took a chance on me.
  • I support you more than you think and I want you to succeed.
  • If you appreciate my teaching and preaching (and say so), others will too.
  • I am not the minister who came before me.
  • I proposed a change because I love the church and our mission.
  • I can serve best when your expectations are clear.
  • The gift for Pastor Appreciate Month meant the world to me.
  • I value our heritage and want to carry the baton to the next generation.
  • I felt supported when you helped pay for my master’s degree.
  • Sometimes I need to be alone with my family.
  • I feel appreciated when you treat me like a team member.

I once heard a long-time church member say, “I used to give my preacher a really hard time. He was a young guy who made a lot of mistakes, and he just didn’t measure up to what I thought he should be.  So I let him and everybody within earshot know what I thought.  Then I imagined myself at the Pearly Gates and God saying, ‘I sent a young minister to your church for you to encourage.  I have big plans for his future.  How’d you do?’”
 
“Right then,” this church member concluded, “I decided my job was to encourage and help him, not to criticize him and run him off.”
 
Young and old ministers need our support.  Our young ministers, however, need that support in extra measure.

Pastoring the Pastor

by Scott Clevenger

Have you ever had one of those best friends who could reliably finish your sentence before the words ever left your tongue?  I have.  In fact, I had two men in my life who were that close to me.  
 
Had.  That’s the key word.  Over the past few years, life took them to different parts of the country.  Sure, with today’s technology, we’re able to stay in touch.  But it’s just not the same as sitting across the table at lunch looking into the whites of each other’s eyes.
 
No matter the size of the church, there will always be drama.  There will always be conflict.  There will always be mountaintop seasons, and there will always be seasons in the valleys.  Through those seasons, I’ve found that it’s very easy for the senior pastor to experience seasons of loneliness.  It’s been said that “It’s lonely at the top.”  I’m guessing your pastor may agree, especially if your pastor doesn’t have a close friend whom he can look straight into the eyes and be ruthlessly honest.
 
During those seasons, it’s easy for elders to continue on with the business of the church while neglecting the health of their pastor.  I don’t imagine it’s intentional whatsoever.  It’s just an all-too-natural drift.  Because of that, at Christ’s Church Camden, we’ve added something to the “job description” for our elders.
 
One of our elders’ foremost responsibilities is:  PASTOR THE PASTORS!  
 
Think about it.  You expect your senior pastor to make sure the congregation gets pastored.  However, who’s pastoring your pastor?  Peter told us, (1 Peter 5:2), “Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you.  Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly – not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God.”  I would point out that the pastors of your church are part of your flock and need to be shepherded by the elders as well.
 
Let’s get practical.  When’s the last time you enjoyed lunch with a pastor with no other agenda than to bless him?  How often do elders and pastors at your church randomly stop each other in the hallways on Sunday mornings to pray?  Do the elders make a practice of “popping their heads in his office” to simply tell him that he’s appreciated?  Pastoring and soul care certainly go beyond such actions, but simple, daily things like these are a great base to build from! 
 
The depth of pastoring the pastors goes further than the pastor himself, of course.  His family needs cared-for as well.  You may be surprised at how many pastor’s wives would admit how disconnected they feel from the rest of the church.  They know intimate details about the church, but rarely can do anything about them.  The natural instinct for many is to distance themselves.  So make sure your pastor’s wife is also pastored!
 
What can you do today for your pastor and his family to shield them from burn-out?  What can you do as an elder to encourage, even inspire, your pastor?  The fact is, nobody else in your church can truly pastor your pastor(s).  It must be at the forefront of the elders’ responsibilities. 

Turn the Page

by Mark Taylor 

New parents sometimes feel trapped.  Infants need constant attention, and Mom and Dad may grieve the diminished freedom, increased expenses, and unending on-call status that come with this new addition to their family.
 
But after only 18 years or so, that son or daughter, now looking ahead at a life of independence, leaves home.  He gets a job; she establishes a household of her own.  And some parents discover a new reason to grieve: without that child who was once such a challenge, the house now seems empty and lonely. 
 
Whether pressed by our current situation or nostalgic for a time now ending, we do well to remember a simple fact: life consists of chapters, each building on the one just finished.  Each chapter presents opportunities and challenges of its own.  The person learning submission to God embraces the joys and faces the difficulties of every new chapter without wasting time to yearn for what has passed or what is yet to come.  But not everyone learns to live with such grace.  
 
This metaphor applies to ministry in particular, as well as to life in general.  Things change in a growing church.  The structures, org charts, procedures, and tactics for ministry in a church of 500 may not move that church to reach 1,000.  We’ve read about this; we know it’s true, but we may not want to face the changes that must happen if growth is to happen.
 
This is because these transitions involve people, and usually these are people we value and love.
 
Tim Harlow examined this when he wrote “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.”  He spoke of committed leaders years ago who made difficult decisions that moved the congregation forward.  But none of those elders are serving today.  Some relocated.  Some have chosen other areas of service.  Today’s tough decisions must be handled by a new crop of leaders.  He described the painful process of saying good-bye to church members not happy with the congregation’s direction or staff members whose skills didn’t match new needs.  If the church had insisted on trying to please everyone, it never would have grown.
 
And dealing with our own personal transitions may be even more difficult.  Kent Fillinger’s research for Christian Standard shows that churches averaging 1,000 or more and led by ministers aged 40-44 grew significantly more than those led by ministers 60 or older.  In fact, emerging megachurches (worship attendance 1,000-2,000) with older ministers declined in worship attendance by an average of more than 2 percent in 2016. 

Does this mean all ministers over 60 should quit?  Certainly not!  But leaders of any age must determine when it’s time to close one chapter and open another one.  This may mean adopting new strategies, questioning old approaches, searching for new opportunities, constantly prodding oneself and one’s team to find a better way, and yes, even succession.
 
And, if the current situation has become comfortable enough that the leader no longer leads with the urgency and vigor that characterized his younger years, he must recognize that a new chapter has already begun.  And he must ask what will change to allow this new chapter in the church’s life to accomplish as much for God as the story that’s already been written. 

Don’t be afraid to turn the page

Prayer-Power

by J. Mike Shannon

The secret of all genuine accomplishments for God is found in prayer.  Prayer has been called the greatest force on earth.  We all agree with that sentiment, but to say that the key to a church’s vitality and effectiveness is found in prayer seems a bit simplistic.  This is because too often we pass off problems with a casual, “Just pray about it.”
 
If prayer is not a real force in congregational life, maybe it is because too often prayer has become a simple formality.  It becomes merely a ritual we perform in public worship.  It becomes “the bookends” that open and close meetings.  Prayer can only become a force in a church when it is genuine and not perfunctory.  Real and vital prayer is indispensable to the life of the church, while pious and ritualistic prayers are of little or no value.
 
Look at Nehemiah’s prayer in his first chapter as he considered the deep need of Jerusalem, and prepared to do his part.  It was not a “tippy-toe” prayer.  It was a genuine heart-felt communication with God.
 
Nehemiah began his prayer where all prayers should begin: in worship, adoration, and praise (v. 5). 

Too often prayer becomes simply asking God for things.  While God has invited us to take our requests to him, that should not be the only, nor even the main, aspect of prayer.  In fact, just being with God should be enough.  The things he gives us are the additional blessings that come from having a relationship with him.  However difficult the challenge, and however doubt-filled our hearts may be, all prayer needs to begin by focusing on God Himself.
 
Nehemiah’s prayer also included confession (verses 6 and 7).  He knew that God was not responsible for the problems, but that the difficulties they faced were the logical outcome of their actions.  Nehemiah’s confession was not just confessing the sins of other people; he admitted his own failings.  This confessional aspect of prayer was both personal and corporate.  It is never appropriate to dwell on the sins of others until we have mourned over our own sins.
 
Nehemiah’s prayer was also characterized by boldness (verses 8 through 11); what some have called a “holy boldness.”  It was not boldness in the sense of arrogance, but rather an attitude of assertive praying.  Nehemiah was not afraid to tell God what hereally thought and he asked God for what he really wanted.
 
Prayer prepared Nehemiah to fulfill a nearly impossible task.  He backed up his prayer with action and sacrifice.  The task did not seem so big once he had been in the presence of God. 

The old adage is very true, and every church leader should remember it: 

If you have a big God then you’ll only have small problems;
if you have a small God you’ll always have big problems.

Eli and Samuel: Passive Mentoring

by Phil Claycomb 

Young Samuel awoke one night hearing his name called.  He ran to Eli, his mentor, to see what Eli needed.  But it was not Eli calling Samuel.  God was.  Armed with that insight, and the simple instruction to say “Speak, Lord, your servant hears,” Samuel returned to his room and soon found himself in conversation with God.  Sounds fun, right?  Unfortunately, God’s word to Samuel was a dark message of judgment on Eli and all that the older priest represented.  God was doing something new – and that meant that Eli and the old way of things had to go.  I imagine the morning’s conversation was awkward, as Samuel unpacked all of God’s revelation for his mentor Eli.
 
I want to suggest that the true hero of this story is Eli.  Eli proved to be a great mentor in the roughest of situations.  And it is not what Eli did, so much as what he did not do that made his mentoring effective.  Good mentoring is often deliberate, proactive, intentional – in a word, active.  But good mentoring is also sometimes passive, and Eli shows us how mentors must occasionally step back and give younger leaders room to learn and experience on their own.  Passive mentoring goes further; it makes room for younger leaders to initiate new ventures, even ventures that threaten to undermine the status quo. 
 
First, consider how Eli passively got out of Samuel’s way.  Once it was established that it was God calling Samuel, Eli gave simple instructions and let the boy encounter God on his own.  We should note that the text specifically states that visions were rare in Eli’s day (1 Samuel 3:1).  It would have been understandable had Eli wanted a ringside seat for the event.  After all, mentors need to be there to help youngsters understand what God “really” means … right?  However, Eli demonstrated masterful mentoring by not intruding.  He stepped out of the picture.  He sent Samuel back to listen to God alone.  Eli was properly and intentionally passive.  His actions remind us that we are not the focus of our protégé’s attention.  Only God is!  This aspect of passive mentoring requires humility of us, because only God deserves followership.  Good passive mentoring focuses younger leaders on God, and not on their mentor.  
 
Second, Eli made no attempt to re-state, interpret, re-interpret, or control the negative message Samuel heard from God.  Even though God’s message to Samuel, and the boy’s own growth in leadership, ultimately undermined Eli’s leadership, Eli let God’s plan play out.  Nothing in the text indicates that he resisted God’s new direction under Samuel’s leadership.  This is passive mentoring at its best.  Eli appropriately differentiated his own calling and ministry from his successor’s.  He trusted God’s plan – for both of them.  The power of passive mentoring is seen in Eli’s stepping back, giving the young leader room to listen to God without interference, as well as permission to follow God down new and unfamiliar paths.  
 
Eli is a mentoring hero – he reminds us that the key to mentoring is not always in what we do, but it is sometimes in what we don’t do!

Encouragement: How to Save a Ministry

by Tim Cole 

I recently had lunch with a preacher friend and colleague of mine.  We were ruminating on the memories of our very first sermons.  His first foray into the pulpit was as a nervous 16-year-old at his home, little country church.  He remembered that he’d studied his text thoroughly, reading every commentary on the passage in his preacher’s extensive library.  He’d hand-written his manuscript, which, by his estimation, would last about 40 minutes. 

Though he was given the Sunday evening sermon slot, the audience seemed twice the normal crowd with the youth group joining the curious adults, ready to hear the youngster’s first attempt.  As he climbed into the intimidating 3-sided pulpit, his nerves took over and he dropped his stack of unnumbered pages on the floor.  He silently prayed for God to somehow just get him through the evening.  He remembers that his sermon lasted a whopping seven minutes.  

On his way out the door, an Elder handed him a note written on the torn-off corner of a bulletin.  My friend said he didn’t read it, instead sticking it in his pants pocket while looking for “cover.”  Later that evening he sat alone in his bedroom having a self-described pity party for how poorly the night had gone.  He wasn’t sure if he’d ever preach again.  

At that moment he remembered and finally read the note handed to him by the Godly Elder at his church.  It wasn’t so much a note; just a simple Bible reference, “1 Corinthians 2:1-5.”  A quick turn to the passage revealed its wise encouragement: 

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.  For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ – and Him crucified.  I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. (NASB) 

This preacher, now 30 years later, says that simple note of encouragement from an Elder he respected might be the reason he’s still in ministry today.  When did you or I last give our preacher a heart-felt encouraging note – maybe at just the right time?  

The Proverb writer penned, “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones,” (16:24, NIV).  

As a minister myself for more than 25 years, and one who now has the privilege of pastoring our pastors, you might be surprised at the number of times preachers have told me similar stories of encouraging words, or actions, from Godly men in their lives that sustained them for years, and sometimes even for decades.  

And maybe this Sunday you might find yourself tearing off the corner of a bulletin…

Pastoral Care – for Pastors

by Rick Grover 

Recently I had a conversation with a minister from a Christian Church in Texas who said, “It appears that many ministers struggle with the challenges of ministry, and they don’t know where to turn.”  I think he’s right.
 
We spoke on the phone about how many ministers are drying up spiritually, burning out emotionally, and giving up professionally.  And they’re not sure if their elders are even aware.  LifeWay Research recently conducted a survey of 1,500 ministers, and here’s what they found:

  • 84% say they’re on call 24 hours a day.
  • 80% expect conflict in their church.
  • 54% find the role of pastor frequently overwhelming.
  • 53% are often concerned about their family’s financial security.
  • 48% often feel the demands of ministry are more than they can handle.

As someone who has served in full-time pulpit ministry and church planting for over 25 years, I can relate.  A few years ago, I went through a season of great difficulty, and one of the marvelous gifts God used to see me through was our eldership.  I turned to our elders for help, and rather than scolding, shaming or rejecting me, they chose to help me.
 
During this trying time, one of our elders asked, “Rick, we want you to be with us for the next 20 years, so how can we help you not only survive but thrive?”  Over the next six months, they worked on a plan to “shepherd a fellow shepherd,” and their plan nourished my soul and may have even saved my ministry.  There is no perfect plan for pastoral care for pastors, but here’s what our elders did to shepherd me.
 
First, they listened.  Inside and outside of elder meetings, they asked me questions about my physical and emotional health, marriage and parenting.  They listened as I poured out my heart, and they withheld judgment and offered grace.
 
Second, they responded.  They invited my mentor, Alan Ahlgrim, to meet with them, and when they found out about a new ministry he established for “pastors covenant groups,” they not only blessed the idea for my participation, they funded it.  That’s right.  They, along with former elders, put their money where their mouths were, and they personally invested in my “soul care.”
 
Third, they challenged me.  They asked tough questions, and they held me accountable.  I had a heart attack during that difficult season, and afterwards they encouraged me to eat right and exercise.  They inspired me to keep my weekly Sabbath and monthly Sabbath retreat.  With firm but loving counsel, our elders have spoken into my life and ministry.
 
Fourth, they modeled health.  Our elders saw what can happen to a church through inattention and lack of spiritual and emotional guidance.  So, they stepped up to the plate in returning to their first love as a model to our entire congregation, and it significantly helped me stay the course in turbulent times.
 
Fifth, they prayed.  Our elders’ meetings turned into prayer meetings.  If we met for two hours, at least thirty minutes of that time was spent in the most important work of all – prayer.  When I would see them in the church hallways on Sundays or at times during the week, they would tell me tell me of their constancy in prayer for me and for our flock.
 
Elders are to shepherd the flock, but remember that your minister is part of your flock.  He is not just a “church employee;” he is a servant of our Lord Jesus Christ who needs others to come alongside him in prayer and in the ministry of the Word.  A healthy eldership who shepherds its ministers and staff well will develop a healthy church for the glory of God and the furthering of His Kingdom.
 
What is your shepherding plan for your ministers?

Elders: Key to Growth in a New Church

by Jim Tune

A new church plant can provide a unique opportunity to create a biblical, workable model unhindered by any existing, entrenched system.  One should embark on an intentional pathway to effective eldership in the earliest years of a new church.  While initial oversight may be provided by a management team, set out early to identify and equip potential elders.

This does not mean we operate in haste.  Years often pass between the launch of a church and the installation of elders.  This may seem a long time, but it is a good decision.

Don’t Move Too Quickly

Many new churches begin with a handful of people.  Plant as a group of missionary-gatherers with the plan to install an eldership only after coalescing into a more established group.

There are two reasons to avoid moving in haste.  First, most of the people initially reached will be unbelievers or come from the long-term unchurched, so a new congregation often simply lacks biblically-qualified leaders.  Around 50-60% of a new church launch team won’t be around after two years, so be wary of installing leaders who might soon leave, disrupting life in the Body. 

Second, early installation of an eldership may send the wrong message to your people.  It says, “We are established now.”  In a young church, the mindset can easily shift from an attitude of pioneering to “mission-accomplished.”  I counsel church planters to wait at least three years, and until they are consistently running 100-plus in attendance, before installing elders.

Don’t Move Too Slowly

Good church planters know the dangers of the truism “work flows to the most competent person until s/he is swamped!”  When the Jerusalem church exploded in growth, the 12 Apostles could not keep up.  Consequently, they selected seven men to manage benevolence so they could continue giving themselves to “prayer and the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4).

While premature installation of elders may weaken missional momentum, failure to delegate ministry to others will inhibit church growth and burn out the staff.  No one can possibly “do it all” as a church leader, so leadership should be shared, especially with elders.  One rarely sees the critical importance of godly elders mentioned in church planting manuals or church growth books.  That’s an almost inexcusable oversight!  

Identifying Potential Elders

We believe the Bible is clear on two aspects of church governance.  According to the New Testament, God intends each local congregation to have a plurality of elders.  It’s also clear that God requires evidence of mature Christian character in their lives, (1 Timothy 3; Titus 1).  Consider two more questions: Is he already functioning as an elder without the title or recognition?  Does he shepherd his family the way one would expect an elder to shepherd God’s church?  In other words, the congregation can and should already look to them as shepherds.

An Installation Process

For a first eldership, the planter might personally select the initial elders.  Paul and Barnabas did in Acts 14:23, and Paul instructed Titus to do so in Titus 1:5.  The planter/minister will probably have walked closely with the candidate men for a long time.  These potential elders should be presented to the congregation and staff for feedback during the vetting process, but not for voting.  A new church is no place for a popularity contest.

Realizing that eldership in a church plant will often come from spiritual novices, implement a training curriculum for emerging leadership.  When I served at Churchill Meadows, it required two years of part-time course work that I taught myself.  Additionally, the elders operated via consensus and were comfortable with an “elder-protected, staff-led” model.  I answered to the elders.  They determined broad policy issues, approved the budget, co-shepherded the flock, and held me accountable.  They had the authority to fire me, and I liked it that way.

The initial installation process was the only time the elders were selected by me personally.  One of the chief tasks for that initial term was the establishment of our future elder-selection protocol.

At times, we experienced rapid growth, and without a team of godly elders who were willing to work very hard alongside the staff, we could not have coped.  Far from being an impediment to growth, our elders helped make it happen!